Crushed Jade (Part One)
I need to leave the palace……
This thought has been repeatedly going through Gui Wan’s head countless times, but up to this very moment, she is still within the tall red tiled walls, looking at that strongly fragrant tree green and lush, she sighs her faint sorrows and clear worries, what is she waiting for? Repeating this over and over again, she self-stops, self-asks, self-sighs, the longer she stays in the palace, the more indistinguishable the entanglement becomes, increasingly coiled, virtually like a sticky spider web, coated with a body of foulness, and even carries the pain of rotting heart, eroding bones.
“The white gull [as though] asking me, mooring that lone boat, is the body being held back, [or] is the heart being held back? Should your heart remain [here], why are [your] brows knitted together……?” Sitting in the back courtyard of Jing Ye, here, every little thing, every scene, is no different to the Prime Minister Estate, hooking up her long drawn out feelings, there is no one who does not speak within the palace, she softly sings out.
The Emperor has changed, since that bewitched night, it has been over a month, he seems to have been constantly changing. The detainment within Jing Ye has loosened, she can freely wander around the palace, the palace maids and eunuchs’ addressment have changed, “Madam Lou” has changed into “Madam Wan” overnight, softly sounding a laugh, Gui Wan’s singing voice turns a few notches higher, how could she possibly not understand the Emperor’s intentions, as they say, if the name is not right then the speech will not be in order, and if the speech is not in order then nothing can be accomplished. The Emperor deliberately blurs her identity, for the four words of “correct titles proper words”.
A monarch’s feelings of passion appears ruthless……
Waves of howling passes by her ears, the scene of Li gong-gong’s death a few days ago once again appearing before her eyes. Originally thinking that leaving the palace still required the golden opportunity of eliminating Li Yu, who knew that she would actually happen upon such chance a few days ago, Li Yu has always been bending the laws and acted domineeringly within the palace, a few days ago, just when he was moving out the obsolete treasures from within Jing Ye, he ran into the big-bellied Consort Yin, perhaps Consort Ying truly is the pain in the hearts of all women in the back palace, even if it was only spotting a few things, it was enough to touch upon Consort Yin’s wounds, she flew into great rage, in addition to the long been over-provoked emotions, originally holding great dissatisfaction towards Li Yu, taking advantage of still carrying the dragon child (emperor’s son), she insisted on punishing him. Gui Wan upon receiving the news, headed to the imperial garden to check out the situation, just happening to run into the Emperor who also came having received the news.
He originally wanted to save Li Yu, in the end, for some unknown reason, he actually endured it, personally seeing his own trusted confidant Head Eunuch get beaten to death under the wooden stick. In this situation, Consort Yin was able to enjoy a round of glory, thus demonstrating she is the Emperor’s current favoured consort. Li Yu’s death, is favourable and harmless to Gui Wan, but to personally see him lose his life because of such offenses that can be deemed big or small, a sense of fox grieving over the death of rabbits evoked within her. When the Emperor was walking past her side, he softly says: “Since you wanted him dead, I granted you. As long as you wish, I will fulfil whatever you want.” This sentence, upon hearing it, a chill ripples through her entire body, howling in the cold, Zheng Liu ah Zheng Liu, are you truly this secretive and unpredictable, with everything in hand, exactly how much has he seen though?
These red walls forever unending, connecting together everywhere, this imperial palace, just like a pit of tigers and dragons. “Past travelling friends, are they still there? [Recalling] the building amongst the flowers, the boat under the willow trees. Dreaming, dreaming, even dreaming cannot bring me back, [only showing] the cold water and air of emptiness [before me].” Words and tones painting vivid scenes, entangling of tender and grace, her beautiful figure in palace outfit, singing alone in infinite solitude, singing of opera, singing of people, singing of gut-wrenching love.
How long has it already been since entering the palace? Winter goes spring comes, spring goes summer at its peak, everything rustling by in a blink of the eye, it is actually coming up to five months, De Yu is already the Head Eunuch, she also has the opportunity to leave the palace, but why is she in delay, unable to decide, what is she waiting for?
Suddenly finding, that the world is such a big place, but there is just no place for her, cannot return to the Prime Minister Estate, also cannot seek refuge at Older Brother’s place, taking the initiative to find Lou Che……will he welcome her with a smile?
Thinking back, in this world, is there anyone waiting for her? And where is her home? Does it have a light, a seat, a cup of tea, the sound of tenderly long greetings specially set up for her, whilst waiting?
She is no deity nor demon, just an ordinary mortal, unable to get rid of fame and fortune, such that is difficult to resist……where love lies, deeply grieved, and how is she to speak up, Husband ah Husband, still remember me?
Still remember me?
“[Staring at the] misty yellow clouds (dim skies, snow clouds), [snow] soaking through cotton [clothes]. They all say no one holds such deep sorrows like me, amongst the snow tonight, there are plum blossoms, like the melancholy in me……” (The plum blossoms covered in plain white, like his sorrowful heart)
Summer fills the air, plum blossoms that had long fallen, sparsely scatters, the subtle fragrance eliminating the dust, in this blazing glory of the burning sun, only she still feels the cold, always maintaining a touch of brilliance unaffected by the world, is such a difficult task ah……
The resonant sound of applauding fills her ears, Gui Wan looks back, the Empress’ clear figure of lilac, an embroidered gown with wide sleeves, a lone shadow gracefully standing in the courtyard, smiling as she gazes at her, “Like the melancholy in me……how truly penetratingly you sang it.”
How long has it been since she last seen the Empress smile at her in greeting like this? Seeing it right now, it actually feels a little unreal, as though looking at it through a thin coating, unable to refrain from guessing what the deeper meaning behind this smile is, originally thinking there were still three points of sisterly love, this too has faded due to such thin coating that cannot be pierced through.
“Your highness.” Gui Wan softly greets as she approaches, saying, “What wind has blown your highness here?”
“A family does not have to be so polite to one another,” The Empress leisurely says, such graceful bearings rarely seen in this world, “Why should the two of us still act like strangers?”
Affected by her word of “family”, Gui Wan creases her brows, only able to smile as she looks at the Empress, waiting for her to speak of the meaning behind her visit, every little action of everyone within this palace, all harbours deeper meanings, with absolutely not a trace of waste, be it laughter, be it love.
“What? Are you blaming me for the cold shoulder I have been showing you recently?” The Empress laughingly asks, “This palace is very cunning, who doesn’t live carefully? You should not blame me, I too had no choice.”
“I know.” Had no choice, everything resorts to having no choice. But once one does something wrong, the best excuse are those words, Gui Wan meekly smiles, the clear wind far and near.
Eyes circling around Gui Wan face, the Empress softly sighs as she says: “I know what you are thinking, Gui Wan, you and I ought to be the closest people in this entire world, it is regrettable we turned out like this, all is fate fooling with people. What I owed you in the past, I have never once forgotten, today I ask you this one last question, do you still trust in me?”
Does she still trust her? Gui Wan was just thinking this, hesitating, yet her mouth had already fought to answer first: “Trust.”
The Empress’ calm face finally reveals true sincerity thanks to this one word of trust, sighing as she says: “Prime Minister Lou has already returned to the Capital yesterday, in a little while, he will be entering the palace, would you like to go see him?”
Surprise clearly displayed on her face, Gui Wan steadily looks at the Empress, seeming to want to make out what is true, what is false from it. In the quiet afternoon of calm wind and peaceful trees, she hesitates indecisively, see or not to see, caught in between a dilemma. An unsmooth feeling surging up her chest, her smile is no longer pure, braced with complex emotions, it appears to be filled with difficulty, “Okay, I’ll see him.”
“What is this place?” Following the Empress in slithering their way around the palace, they arrive at a small narrow room, looks like no one has lived here for ten years, Gui Wan could not help but to ask, her heart heavy with doubts.
“At the side is the west side hall of Chong Hua Palace,” The Empress takes out her silk handkerchief to shake off the dust from a table without any concern, carefully wiping the chair, she carefully explains, “The late Empress Dowager set up a secret chamber here, able to observe whatever is happening in the hall.”
Noticing a landscape painting hung on the wall in front, with not a speck of dust on it, incompatible with the condition the room is in, Gui Wan approaches it, carefully observing, only then did she notice that the painting had been punctured, looking through the hole, this large hall that she has once been in with Zheng Liu, is presented before her eyes, perfectly clear, secretly taken aback, to say the finely designed layout of this palace is of wonderfully intricate workmanship is really no exaggeration.
The Empress takes out a pot of tea from who knows where, placing it on the table, pouring to cups full, she softly whispers to Gui Wan: “They are about to come, let us quietly wait here.”
Gui Wan seeing her look of complete calmness, reveals a faint smile, they all say men are the ones who devise strategies in the command tent, ruling the world, but looking at it now, women knows of all movements best, political tactics from beyond the tent curtains are actually not at all any less. Leisurely sitting down, taking a sip of the tea, cheek resting in hand as they quietly wait.
The waiting time feel particularly long, the tea fragrance already fading, yet the main hall is still soundless with nobody there, Gui Wan casually looks around, her face displaying calmness, yet her heart is stirring with inexplicable feelings surging up.
“Does Minister Lou still remember this place by any chance?”
This gentle and refined voice travels into the secret chamber from within the hall, Gui Wan and the Empress both receives a little shock, the two of them meeting eyes, the Empress attentively looks into the punctured hole, Gui Wan remains motionless, gathering up her smile as she concentrates on listening.
“Chong Hua Palace side hall……your majesty is in very high spirits today.” Hearing this clear and smooth voice like that of the wind, Gui Wan’s brows lightly creases together, the one who has disappeared for nearly five months, has he finally returned?
“Minister Lou has returned from Nan Jun, and even prepared a big gift for me, how could I not be happy? That is why I have thought to make a trip to this place, all is thanks to your blessing……”
“This subject should be thankful of your majesty, if not for your majesty’s grace, how could this subject possibly go to the land of Nan Jun……”
Listening to them both acting so perfunctorily and courteous in the hall, happily getting along harmoniously on the surface, when in reality, bladed hearts lies beyond the honey coated tongues. Gui Wan spreads a satirical smile, this pair of monarch and subject, deep with shrewdness, heavy with calculating hearts, can also be said to be well-matched.
Chatting in the hall in a you speak I follow manner, they have only been speaking of insignificant matters, Gui Wan sends the remaining tea in the cup down her throat, watching the Empress return to her seat. The hall suddenly becomes quiet, silent and stuffy. The Empress was absolutely puzzled, was just about to go up front to take a peek again, when the voices sounds once again.
“Lou Che, your eyes no longer holds this Emperor I, so why hold up such false pretence?”
This voice carrying severity within gentleness, the Empress’ action of wanting to observe the situation freezes, Gui Wan also places down the empty cup in hand, the two of them equally oblivious to what happened within the hall, but could sense the atmosphere weigh down with an imposing air.
“Over and over again you have prevented the establishment of the central academy, and have joined forces with Prince Duan, Prince of Nan Jun, you really think there is no one else in the court?”
An elegant laughter sounds, “Since your majesty has directly spoken today, this subject would also like to directly speak words of persuasion, your majesty is eager for quick success and instant benefits, hiring large numbers of young beginners, marginalising the senior officials in court, doing this is although favourable in centralising power, but is not a good policy.”
“Good,” Zheng Liu also starts laughing, extremely arrogant, “Great words of persuasion, since you Lou Che became the prime minister, this is the most pertinent words you have spoken.”
Following on was the sound of cups and plates, a voice thinly laced with laughter once again speaks up, “Back then when the Crown Prince advised me to kill you, I hesitated, thinking back to it, when it comes to reading people, Crown Prince’s eyes are a level above mine.”
“But Crown Prince’s methods were viciously cruel, not listening to others’ disagreements, an unfit candidate to become monarch.” Lou Che gently follows on, his calm attitude appears very orderly.
“That is why you joined forces with the Empress Dowager in harming the Crown Prince with slow poisoning, gaining a firm foothold, and then in the name of clearing the imperial family, exposed the Empress Dowager……Lou Che, in terms of vicious methods, the Crown Prince back then cannot even compare to you in this case, from one little regular attendant to today’s prime minister, you can be said to have been treading up in the blood of others.”
After a moment of silence, Lou Che slowly speaks: “Your majesty’s words are too heavy, this subject is unable to shoulder it, the Crown Prince’s disease back then really had nothing to do with me, as for the Empress Dowager, that was because she wanted to get rid of me, therefore I could only take pre-emptive action, it was only for the means of self-defence.”
“Planting your henchmen, power dominating over the laws of the imperial court is also out of self-defence?” Lightly containing his disdain, Zheng Liu sarcastically laughs as he asks.
“Otherwise, this subject would not be able to be drinking with your majesty today, head and body long been separated, compared to Crown Prince, your majesty is also much better qualified. ‘Changes of Feng Shan’, ‘Sieging of Jing Ye’, your majesty really had this subject perform poorly in handling these situations.”
The Empress heart receives a fright upon hearing this, met with overwhelming respect, she turns her head to the side, Gui Wan in return smiles at her, that warm and gentle smile touched the Empress’ heart, not knowing how, her heart also calms down.
The monarch and subject within the hall continues talking, the seemingly homely chat releasing a bloody air, you cheat me I outwit you. Between their talking and laughter, the winds of change brushes by, the world, the country, the power holder, all seems to be a chess game, two people standing in opposition, competing to prove superior, the chessboard, being the world.
“Prince Duan has been waiting to be summoned from outside the eastern city gates for three days already, if your majesty continues to ignore this, I’m afraid that the commoner’s “righteous” image will be damaged……” Lou Che thus advices.
“Prince Duan,” Zheng Liu interestingly ponders this name he has not been hearing of for a long time, “Prince Duan, originally thinking he is arrogant and overbearing, really did not think that……he is a man full of sentiment, for a woman……”
Sighing out loud, followed by a frivolous laugh raising three notches higher, suddenly stopping: “Lou Che, you taking Consort Ying out of the palace, I had originally thought you truly are so deeply affectionate, never did I think you would actually bring her to Prince Duan’s side, thus creating the opportunity to form an alliance with Prince Duan. Only with such methods, can I consider it to be a little more meaningful, playing chess still requires an opponent, if there is no you Lou Che, this imperial court will inevitably become a lot less interesting.”
Standing alone at the top……hearing Zheng Liu’s words, Gui Wan was suddenly hit with mixed feelings, savouring the meaning behind his words, dejection floats up. So frank and open between the two monarch and subject, clearly the forewarning of desperate battle. Power is so loveable and dear, compared to a beauty, it even more so has a hero willing to bow down to.
That is why, Lou Che is able to abandon Consort Ying, abandon her……
Slowly getting up, the Empress turns her head in surprise, Gui Wan uses her finger to make a silent action, faintly smiling as she turns around, very gently opening the door they came in from, she says nothing at all, one person fluttering away. Behind, the Empress still appeared dumbfounded, unable to comprehend what is going on.
The path they took upon coming here, Gui Wan has already forgotten, following the many turns of the corridor, she slowly walks, head filled with no thoughts, just wanting to leave that stuffy place, her mind is at ease, but is also empty, fleeting and unpredictable. Originally thinking she had many things to say, but right now not even a single word is able to come out her mouth.
Her chest feeling stuffy, suffocating……
Wandering around the palace to several places, coming to a stop every now and then, giving herself a break to think, unknowingly wasting a lot of time. The skies gradually masked, the sun already descending west, looking up, Gui Wan finally found the familiar place, feeling a little tired, she raises her strides into the palace doors, this courtyard of Jing Ye is exactly the same as the Prime Minster Estate, yet she just cannot adapt to it, her heart vaguely rejecting it, eyes sweeping across, fixing onto one spot, she is suddenly speechless.
Lou Che stands at the entrance of the Jing Ye hall, within his handsomely elegant smile there holds hidden irritation and displeasure, seeing Gui Wan slowly walking over, the corner of his lips rises, quickly heading over to her, “Gui Wan……” Thousands of words only comes out as a muffled sigh.
Gaze shining with brilliance, Gui Wan raises her eyes to look at him, “Lord Husband……”
Coming to a close proximity, Lou Che hears this and frowns, Gui Wan’s addressment carries an overtone, husband is identity, lord is position of power, that addressment harbours estrangement. Heart secretly startled, he extends his hand, gently brushing the bridge of Gui Wan’s nose, but also cannot bear to use force, lightly skimming past, he says: “I kept you waiting for a long time, let us return home now.”
That voice is like the spring breeze containing laughter, blowing directly into her heart, leaving the palace is what she wishes for, Gui Wan nods. A cool breeze lightly raises, loose hair floating before her eyes, she had only just raised her hand, when it came in contact with Lou Che’s finger, that long slender finger helps her gently brush back the loose hair behind her ear, and then with a hook of his hand, he takes advantage of the situation to gently pull her into his arms, “Angry? You can be annoyed, you can be angry, but you cannot deliberately neglect me like this. Gui Wan……”
Lightly letting out a sigh, Lou Che also did not know how to explain, towards the important matters within court, he is able direct situations at ease, without the slightest hesitation, but towards this extremely coddled one, he instead has no idea how to handle her moods. She is always carrying a smile, smiling when angry, smiling when sad, even when she is feeling nothing at all, she is still smiling, after spending a long time together, did he finally know that it is a type of disciplined habit that has sunk into her every bone. Clearly aware that she is not happy right now, he feels somewhat incapable, if he is to hold her tighter, he is afraid of unintentionally hurting her, if he is to loosen his hold, he is also afraid that his feelings would not reach her heart.
Tired, so she is tired, lightly leaning against Lou Che, she originally wanted to back away, but in the end she could not bear it, five months of bitterness, in this embrace, fades, scatters, his one sentence of “let us return home now” by her ear, a trace of sourness, floats up her heart, arousing her infinitely tender heart. What should she trust in? Other people’s words, or what she witness before her eyes? Before she could reach a decision, her heart grew tired, that is why everything can wait for later to bother about, silently saying this deep inside, for the first time in these five months, she feels so relaxed.
Gently hugging Gui Wan, Lou Che lightly pats her shoulder, like coaxing a little child, seeing her close her eyes, he knows she is exhausted, softly saying: “In Nan Jun I saw a particular palace lantern, delicate and lovely, I brought one back, what do you think of placing it in your room?”
“Palace lantern?” Gui Wan lightly rubs her face, her fan-like eyelashes slightly flutters, “Palace lanterns takes up space, I don’t want it.”
“I got them to make you a small one, hanging it in the room, using glass to create the surface……” Towards Gui Wan’s wilfulness he was not bothered by it, and instead feels fortunate, her heart has not rejected him.
Seeing her not answer him, he knows she has agreed, Lou Che chuckles, continuing to speak of what he has seen and heard in Nan Jun, half coaxing half persuading, teasing Gui Wan to speak, wanting to resolve the knot in her heart.
The palace maids outside Jing Yi Hall were put in a difficult spot upon seeing the situation, a bold one amongst them, quietly leans in, her voice not resonant but still clearly heard by Lou Che, politely reminding: “Prime……Prime Minister Lou, Madam Wan, the carriage is already ready.”
Lou Che’s body suddenly stiffens, Gui Wan feels this, opening her eyes, she backs away, when her waist is clasped onto by Lou Che, Lou Che’s other hand brushes through her hair, wrapping around her shoulder, very tenderly. But the eyes that turned towards the palace maids flashed with cold sharpness, waves of cold wind blows, “What did you address just now?”
The palace maid had already been petrified, not knowing what she has done wrong, submissively saying: “Prime……Prime Minister Lou, Madam……Madam Wan……carriage……carriage……”
“Impudence,” Lou Che coldly scolds, “In accordance to habitual nature of addressing women in the palace, I Lou Che’s wife, should be addressed as Madam Lou, could it be that you do not know?”
Legs giving away, dropping to her knees, the palace maid hurriedly kowtows, “Prime Minister Lou pardon this offense, this servant is listening to the commands from the heads……”
“Come!” Not giving the slightest chance, Lou Che loudly calls out, several guards from outside the hall floods in, standing in alignment, “Take her away, fifty slaps to the mouth, throw her out of the palace.”
The palace maid continues to kowtow nonstop, pleading for mercy, the guards listens to the orders and immediately steps forward, dragging the palace maid out of the hall. The palace maids at the side had long been frightened to point of not daring to utter a sound, one tremblingly comes forward, “Prime Minister Lou, Madam Lou……the carriage is already ready.”
Sensing the fury diffusing from Lou Che’s body, Gui Wan stays silent, sinking into thoughts, Lou Che had already lowered his head, “Are you tired……we’re returning home now.”
Gently placing a kiss on her cheek, even the cool breeze was melting in this tenderness, carrying warmth as it blows.
From the palace to the official road there is a long path, red walls running down both sides, endlessly long with quite a large distant apart. Walking side by side with Lou Che down this path, Gui Wan looks ahead, unable to help but to think back to taking a walk like this with Consort Ying, discussing the length of this long path. She said, when going there her eager heart like a shooting arrow, when walking back the path feels like a long journey, Consort Ying is very attentive with delicate thoughts, such that can be seen in this one remark. Right now, this path is still the same, her body already grown fragile, women of beauty that can overthrow cities, do they all suffer such fate in the end?
Her heart feeling cold, Gui Wan wants to withdraw her hand, with one little movement she finds that Lou Che has tightly clasped onto her hand refusing to loosen it, seamlessly joined together, with great strength, to the point it faintly pained her. Looking to the side at Lou Che, those thin lips tightly pressed together, that slight curve may be a smile but he is still angry, just when she was about to speak up, Lou Che suddenly slows down his speed, staring in front, his smile spreads wider, but those eyes of still pools appears to deepen.
Through the final doorway of the deep palace, the Empress leisurely makes her way over, that glamorous bearing unchanging, smiling as she says: “Hearing that Gui Wan is leaving the palace, I came to send her off. Prime Minister Lou, can you let me speak a few words to your madam in private?”
Lou Che’s deep eyes forms a smile, releasing Gui Wan’s hand, he naturally takes a few steps back, “This subject thanks your highness for your grace and affection on Gui Wan’s behalf.” Hand forming a respectful gesture, he elegantly walks away, forming a greater distance from Gui Wan and the Empress, stationing himself in the rear area.
Gui Wan rotates the wrist that is already somewhat stiff, the Empress approaches, intimately holding her hand, providing her support, the two of them slowly paces forward.
“Why did you leave like that before?” The Empress softly speaks, “Did you hear something that made you uncomfortable?”
“Your highness is too considerate, the air was a bit stuffy in there, I only wanted to get some fresh air.” Gui Wan smiles.
Holding up Gui Wan delicately fair hand, the Empress gently sighs: “In the end you are unable to trust me……Gui Wan, women has it difficult, residing deep in the back palace, women in the estates of nobility has it even more difficult, the meaning of this, I believe you also understand, en?”
These words are really touching, containing a heavy weight, Gui Wan heart was moved, looking at the Empress, a smile of gentle warmth, seven points similar to her mother’s, warmth rushing up her body, Gui Wan lightly holds the Empress’ hand.
“Men’s heart is set on the world, women’s world is set on men’s heart, this is difficulty of women. Having entered the palace for so many years now, I have come to realise a principle……” The Empress’ eyes appears to turn hazy, seeming to be reminiscing something, her tones also sounds somewhat fleeting, “Rather than vying for doting love, better to vie for position, a woman’s vanity is built on a man’s power.”
“Your highness……” Gui Wan was speechless, speculating the deeper meaning behind the Empress’ remark.
“Gui Wan, today finding you to go Chong Hua Palace, I actually wanted to tell you, as long as you are willing, I am willing to share control over the phoenix seal with you, reigning the back palace together……” The Empress’ words like a sudden clap of thunder, comes to a sudden stop.
Heartrate speeding up, Gui Wan releases her hand, glancing behind, Lou Che appears as though he is not paying any attention, only then does her eyes turns back to the Empress, deeply gazing at her, “Your highness, are you thinking right? How could you say such words?”
The Empress calmly smiles magnanimously, with unspeakable tolerance and tenderness, “You have seven apertures leading to an exquisitely bright heart, how could you not know that my words all come from a sincere heart, I will only ask you one question, are you willing?”
Gui Wan steadily stares at the Empress, eye meet eye, she sees the deep hope inside, like shallow autumn pools, glistening under the sun, revealing a promising brilliance.
Firmly shaking her head, Gui Wan’s lips forms a crescent moon, “I am not a phoenix, so how could I enter the imperial family, thanking your highness’ good intentions, but I cannot afford to undertake this.”
Pausing for a moment, the Empress sounds a laughter, heartily laughing out loud, seeming happy but also seeming glum, a burst of laughter, even Lou Che in the distance peeks over in absolute puzzlement. Easily gathering up her laugher, the Empress seriously looks at Gui Wan, “Good……good, indeed exquisitely brighter than others, with pure graceful bearing alone, not many people in the world is able to match up to you, it is I who played the villain in vain.”
As this woman deemed the mother of the country continues speaking, the tears in her eyes appears more evident, eyes turning red, Gui Wan upon seeing this, also senses the sour feelings stirring, softly advising: “Your highness needs not to overthink this, the road is coming to an end now, you cannot send me off further, quickly return to the palace.”
Seeing the Prime Minister Estate’s carriage and guards waiting at the end of the road, the Empress absentmindedly nods her head, opening her mouth to say something, but closes it again. Lou Che steps forward, looking at the Empress in wonderment, taking hold of Gui Wan’s hand, he casts aside a word of “your highness we will be taking our leave now”, and walks ahead just like that. The Empress dumbly remains standing on the spot, suddenly making a move, she quickly paces forward, pulling Gui Wan to a stop, she leans towards her ear, quietly saying: “Leave from Xuan Yu Gates absolutely must not head to Xuan Ji Gates, be sure to remember.”
Gui Wan looks back at her in surprise, those dark orbs lightly turning, already able to work out the mystery behind it, warmth bubbling up, hundreds of feelings gathering in the chest.
“Thank you…… [Older] Sister……”
The Empress nods her head, and then shakes, crystal clear tears dripping down drop by drop, standing in the same spot, she watches Gui Wan and Lou Che aboard the horse carriage, the horse whip lifts, the gulu sound of the carriage wheels sounds, and only then did she collect herself, turning around, wanting to return to the deep palace, when she was startled by the towering red walls and long road ahead standing before her eyes, looking at this in daze, she carries a bottomless look of melancholy, slowly walking deep into the palace, where she is to be masked in vanity.
 A poem of the Southern Song Dynasty composed by poet Jiǎng Jié / 蒋捷 called Plum Blossom Citing · Jing Xi Snow Barrier
 Fox grieving over the death of rabbits or tù sǐ hú bēi / 兔死狐悲 is an idiom to say that even animals grieves for their kinds.
 Seven apertures leading to an exquisitely bright heart or qī qiào líng lóng xīn /七窍玲珑心 – the seven apertures are the seven openings in your head (2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 nostrils, mouth), the saying is used to refer to sensitive people who is able to thoroughly take in and assess situations, thus being smart enough to act accordingly.